How much of what we do in life is a deliberate choice, and how much comes from a random sequence of events?
This thought come to my mind following a delusional conversation I had with my youngest daughter a few weeks ago.
We were talking about an elevator ride she had taken, in which she noticed that the floors on the control panel were also indicated in Braille. She asked me how one managed to learn those strange codes and, before I had time to answer, declared with a solemn expression that it's a good thing she's not blind, because she wouldn't be good at it.
She was a little offended by my loud laughter. I explained to her that being blind isn't exactly a choice, it's something that just happens. Nobody chooses to be blind, for obvious reasons, and if it happens, one has to be equipped with all the tools to be able to lead a life as qualified and independent as possible, learning braille being one of those tools.
In other words, there are cases where, in fact, the ability or sensitivity we have is of little importance, when it is essential to our subsistence, to our quality of life, to acquire a certain skill.
It is often said that when we lose one sense, the others are more stimulated and end up developing more than usual. A blind person will probably have a much more refined touch than someone who relates to the surroundings essentially through vision. If we close our eyes, we feel the tactile stimuli with a renewed sensitivity, which we were perhaps unaware of. We experience the surprise of having a greater tactile perception than we thought possible.
What lessons do I take from this reflection for my life as an architect and entrepreneur?
The truth is that, on the verge of completing half a century of existence, I conclude that most of my professional daily life results more from a succession of random events than from a very conscious planning.
It was a sum of events, some dependent on conscious choices I made, but most resulting from a random combination of external factors, which led to where I am now.
This doesn't mean that I don't have a say in my daily life.
I prefer to think that life puts successive challenges ahead of us, and that most of the time it depends on us, on our commitment, seriousness, willpower and determination to overcome them. Many times we find ourselves placed in challenging situations, which we have no idea how to overcome. We can withdraw, returning to our comfort zone, or face circumstances with some degree of temerity (and maybe even some madness) and do our best to overcome problems.